Snow Job: Chank Designs Typeface at Sub-Zero Temperatures

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Minnesotans in winter are a resourceful (if shivering) bunch, and type designer Chank Diesel is no exception. In February, the founder of Minneapolis-based type house Chank Company recruited groups of Minnesota State University graphic design students for an outdoor type design workshop — on a Sunday in Mankato when the temperature dipped as low as -5°F, give or take the occasional 20 mph windburst. “I figured since they were crazy enough to choose to live in Mankato in February in the first place, they’d be cool with going out in the subzero cold to draw fonts on the sidewalk,” Diesel tells us. “I was right. They were fearless and we had a lot of fun.” Chank recorded the fun and fearlessness in the below video.

“I was ready to go out in the parking lot scratching the alphabets on windshields,” says Diesel. “But luckily we got a fresh coating of snow that morning to make the sidewalks the perfect canvas.” On that canvas, Chank and the students created NoMak, which he describes as “a hand-tooled, calligraphic grunge logofont from the future.” Transforming the collection of arcs and straight lines into a geometric sans-serif typeface was no walk in the snow, however, and Diesel is now working on a cleaner, all-geometric version. For now, there’s NoMak, available as a free download on the Chank website. Says Diesel, “It’s what I imagine to be the last-gasp, death-scrawl, of the last robot on earth trapped in an ice cave in Antarctica in the distant future. Just before his battery runs out.”